Posts Tagged ‘singapore’

In Singapore, getting your GST back is efficiently electronic

We departed Singapore and got to experience their electronic tourist refund scheme (eTRS), for collecting your GST back. To think, at the cashier’s desk when we made the purchase, we were wondering why we couldn’t just use a Global Blue refund card (useful in most of Europe). 

At the point of purchase, you are given a receipt with a barcode. When you visit the airport, just follow a touch-screen based interface that says you accept the conditions (i.e. this stuff is for export/you’re not Singaporean), swipe your passport (yes, it reads it all very well), say when you entered Singapore (you can get a popup calendar), scan the receipts you’ve received via the barcode (which will display the store you purchased things from, etc.), choose a refund method (we chose to just swipe a credit card), and voila! you get a notification receipt saying all is well. There was no physical inspection required, and with the other 5 people around, none of them had that requirement.

Apparently the monies get refunded back to the credit card within 10 days. This is extremely efficient — compared to even checking out in the UK or Europe. There you still have to get stamps on receipts, usually by lining up in a pretty long queue, then posting stuff back. 

The efficiency definitely leaves a very good aftertaste.

Bitcoin Exchanges can’t work in Malaysia

News today: Genneva (gold trading company, launched by former Prime Minister Mahathir) Malaysia director charged with accepting deposits without a license.

So if you’re thinking of a Bitcoin exchange in Malaysia, think again. Bank Negara Malaysia obviously doesn’t think much of Bitcoin. How will you accept deposits without a license? 

Singapore on the other hand proves itself to be in the forefront of finance: treat Bitcoin like a product. Read the full IRAS statement. Singapore is about to get its first Bitcoin ATM soon.

For further reading, see the BAFIA 1989, in its entirety. Once again, laws that prevent innovation.

When hackers gather

I just stumbled upon nushackers (formerly linuxNUS). Here are a group of people from the National University of Singapore, who organise weekly talks (Friday Hacks), as well as workshops (hackerschool).

I’m totally inspired by what’s happening, it kind of reminds me of the CSSE Student Club I was a part of back at my alma mater. The extension to that was GAUNIX, in where we controlled a machine supported by the university and gave folk shell access.

Great things happen when hackers meet up with each other. And here I’m referring to the hackers, not just the idea folk/business people. Just people playing around with new things, tinkering, sharing about new technology, building stuff. 

There used to be MyOSS meetups in Malaysia. Now there is WebCampKL, but this is a meld of people who are not exactly hackers.

I reckon this is what’s missing in the Malaysian space – it needs to be fixed. 

On why Singapore

Nathan Tinkler (young Aussie, rags to riches story) has decided to call Singapore home. Why?

Aside from the country’s low taxes, clean government and pro-business environment, wealthy foreigners are also drawn by Singapore’s low crime rate, highly developed infrastructure, and its lack of local tabloid media excesses.

Following my themes a little, no? Malaysia needs rebooting and it has to come from the people.

Mobile prepaid broadband in Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore

When I was in Bangkok, Thailand recently, I received really good information from John Berns, one of the organisers of BarCampBangkok3. He told all out-of-town guests, that you have options for data, with regards to phone SIMs (which you can procure for less than 100 Baht, and topups range from 50, 100 and 300 Baht – cheap!):

If you want to get EDGE/GPRS data service, buy a One-2-Call SIM, it’s easy to set up and you can get 20 hours of EDGE/GPRS for B100. To subscribe, just dial *138 and follow the voice menu.

In Malaysia, prepaid broadband is not simple. Until now, it seems. I quote, from the article Driving mobile broadband to tourists:

Celcom Broadband Prepaid plans are available for RM20 for a week’s worth of unlimited Internet connections while RM6 will buy you 24 hours of unlimited connectivity. The connection speed is up to a maximum of 384 kilobits per second.

RM20 for a week’s worth of unlimited Internet access, that gives you 384kbps. That’s cheap! For a month, that is a meagre RM80, much cheaper than Maxis’s Broadband offering (albeit at a higher speed, but the service quality is horrendous) at RM138.

How is Celcom Broadband? Does it work well? It seems like they’re about the only provider that I have not subscribed to, and this prepaid deal is making me want to check it out. (Their website on the other hand is a complete useless hunk of Flash, that even MacOSX dislikes.)

Point to note: in Thailand, getting a SIM card is easy, you just buy it off the shelf. In Malaysia, they require ID checks, and an address (I’m sure a hotel’s would suffice, and a passport would do), as they need to add it to a centralised database, to track your naughty behaviour ;-)

The last time I was in Singapore, I also noticed something similar from M1: M1 Prepaid Broadband. 3 days of usage, up to 7.2mbps, and topup’s are SGD$18 for 3 days, and SGD$30 for 5 days. The card itself costs SGD$18. Very nifty (there was a promo for a little over a hundred bucks, you could even pick up an unlocked HSDPA modem!). Where else can I get prepaid broadband, on the cheap?

You own a modern phone? You own an iPhone? You definitely want something like this, considering you’ll find the location based services useful, as well as making use of the assisted GPS unit to find your way around. Looks like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have their bases covered for the mobile data warrior.

Skype’s roaming WiFi, and the Singapore Airport

I was in in the Singapore Changi Airport yesterday, and thought I should pull some mail while in the terminal, so as to be more productive on the plane ride home. Opening my laptop, I saw the following:


Skype Access - Wireless@SG

Pretty nifty right? This is what you get with the new Skype beta for Mac OS X 2.8 – access to roam on many wireless networks, via Boingo, in a new service called Skype Access. It comes out of your Skype credit, so you don’t need no stinkin’ credit card.

Over on Flickr I was asked if the €0.14 made sense per minute. I’m here to give you a resounding no.

Wireless@SG is free to access. Just roam with Singtel, and dial *186. I wrote about this previously. Access until midnight, and when you need it again, don’t hesitate to ask.


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